Children in the United States are increasingly becoming drunk after consuming hand sanitizer. In the past 5 years, the number of emergency incidents relating to children who have alcohol poisoning from the bathroom liquid has increased by 400%, providing much more work for hospitals and ambulance services. It is not unusual for the products to contain up to 95% alcohol so that only a few squirts is necessary to become seriously ill.
As hand sanitizer often has ingredients intended to make it look and smell nice, it can look attractive to children, especially if they have scents that are generally associated to foods, such as strawberry or lemon. This has led to a spate of incidents involving children who have swallowed hand sanitizer thinking that it is food, although officials say that they are aware that some are actually purposely drinking the liquid to get drunk or are doing it after being dared by their classmates.
Recently, six year-old Nhaijah Russel swallowed three or four squirts of hand sanitizer and ended up in hospital with a BAC of .179, which is double the legal limit for adults. Experts are recommending that schools and parents start keeping hand sanitizer out of reach of very young children or swap to non-alcohol based products. This will help to reduce the problem and ensure that far less children need to go to hospital